On the 21st July 1917, a year and a day after the 20th (Public Schools) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers had been badly mauled at High Wood, a small band of survivors sat down for lunch.
The men were eating at the Grand Hotel, Dover; a fairly grand meal for wartime of boiled Scotch salmon, roast lamb and Aylesbury duckling. There was peach melba for dessert; coffee and biscuits, and no doubt plenty of wine. The toast would undoubtedly have been to absent friends.
High Wood had cost the battalion dear. The 20th Royal Fusiliers had 139 men killed on this day and of these men, the bodies of 104 of them would never be found. In time they would be commemorated on the memorial to the missing at Thiepval.
PS/4855 Private Charles Edward Garfitt was one of the diners that day, and on the back of his menu card he asked his fellow diners to sign their names. With the exception of old soldier 8860 Sgt-Major Raven, the other diners were men like himself: public school or university educated and back in England awaiting commissions or still recovering from High Wood wounds.
I bought Charles Garfitt’s menu card when it came up at auction a couple of months ago, and I have identified 24 of the 25 men. Their names and brief details are listed below. Hubert Morris is the only man for whom I have found a photo; this portrait taken at one of David Knight-Whittome’s studios in Surrey on the 8th May 1915. He would go on to be commissioned with the Lancashire Fusiliers but would not survive the war. Here then, are the diners. I would be interested in purchasing medals to any of these men. Contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you will be willing to sell.
PS/4513 Lance-Corporal Herbert Mansell Boardley, later 107862 L/Cpl, MGC; later 2nd Lt, MGC
PS/4891 Private Francis (Frank) Halley Goodall, later 107876 Cpl, MGC; later 2nd Lt, Tank Corps
PS/5897 Private Frank Walker, later 52492 Pte, Northumberland Fusiliers
PS/4485 Corporal Geoffrey Stuart Beck, later GS/57424 Royal Fusiliers; later 2nd Lt, Royal Fusiliers
8860 Sergeant Major Leonard Raven, later G/59639 Royal Fusiliers; later quartermaster and honorary lieutenant
PS/5628 Private John Ashley Sheppard, later 341196 Sgt, Labour Corps
PS/6441 Private Ernest Arthur Dye, later 58786 8th Royal Fusiliers. Died of wounds 7th September 1917.
PS/8215 Private H C Shaw, later 2nd Lt, 6th Royal Fusiliers
PS/5342 Private Hubert Marmaduke Morris, later 2nd Lt, 15th Lancashire Fusiliers. Died of wounds 17th August 1918 aged 26.
PS/4441 Private Percy B Barnett, later GS/48315 Pte, Royal Fusiliers
PS/5188 Private William Lawrence, later 22379 Pte, Army Pay Corps
PS/8052 Private Arthur Mason, later 2nd Lt, Royal Fusiliers
PS/4855 Private Charles Edward Garfitt, later 114326 L/Cpl, MGC; later 2nd Lt, Tank Corps
PS/5980 Private Frank Kenneth Wright, later 2nd Lt, Royal Welsh Fusiliers; later 2nd Lt, RAF
PS/5505 Private Arnold Rainer, later 2nd Lt, Royal Fusiliers; later 2nd Lt, West Riding Regt
PS/4684 Private Edward Thomas Collinge, later 15777 Cpl, Army Pay Corps
Private A C Bailey [I am not convinced that this is the correct name. This is the only man who I have not been able to identify]
PS/5532 Private Frank C Riley, later 275731 Pte, Labour Corps
PS/4818 Private Cyril Fernyhough, later GS/80053 Cpl, Royal Fusiliers
PS/5569 Private Roy Bryan Rumney, later 62343 Pte, Northumberland Fusiliers; later Lt, RASC
PS/6514 Private James Medcalf, later 15317 Army Pay Corps
PS/4417 Private John Brown, later 2nd Lt, South Lancashire Regt
PS/5389 Private Thomas Earls Newel
PS/5761 Private Edward Gordon Turner; wounded on 20th July 1916
PS/5221 Private Arthur Norman Long, later 2nd Lt, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
PS/4508 Lance-Sergeant Frederick William Bower Believed to be this man; later Captain, 20th Royal Fusiliers. KiA 8th March 1918, aged 31.
PS/5910 Private John Francis Welch, later 2nd Lt, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry; later 2nd Lt Indian Army